Yedlin returns to MLS as the league preps for 27th season
Opportune timing brought DeAndre Yedlin back to Major League Soccer.
The birth of his first child, the prospect of playing in an exciting city closer to home and the right offer prompted Yedlin to sign with Inter Miami after some seven years in Europe.
“Football’s a big part of my life, but it’s not my whole life. Just having my daughter in September, wanting to be more around family, and coming back to a league that’s really growing and that’s getting better and better every year,” he said. “I think it was just a combination of a bunch of different things that were put together that made this just the right time.”
And yes, Miami was appealing from a fashion standpoint for the ever-stylish defender.
“I’m looking at kind of starting my own line and definitely being in Miami, where obviously fashion is a big part of the city,” he said. “I don’t want to say it was a huge factor in me coming here but it’s definitely a cherry on top on for my decision.”
Yedlin’s return stateside also comes as the Unted States looks to qualify for the World Cup later this year. The United States sits in second place in the CONCACAF group, behind Canada, with three matches remaining in March. The top three nations qualify for Qatar and fourth place advances to a playoff against the Oceania champion.
Miami head coach coach Phil Neville likened the addition of Yedlin to a designated player signing. The 28-year-old provides a defensive boost for Miami, which allowed 53 goals last season and finished 12-17-5, well out of the playoffs in 11th in the Eastern Conference.
Assistant coach Jason Kreis, a former MLS head coach for NYCFC, Real Salt Lake and Orlando, said Yedlin will add veteran leadership to a team that’s undergone an overhaul.
“He’s a competitor. He’s a fighter, and I think we’ve seen that really from day one. When he entered MLS, there was no fear about him. That’s what led him to do so well and get a contract over in Europe,” Kreis said. “So he has that fighting mentality. He has that hunger, he has the ability to lead and to motivate the players around him. And we know that last year we were lacking some of that.”
Yedlin also sees his role as being a leader — for Miami and for the national team as it seeks to qualify for the World Cup.
“With the national team and with this team, I play similar roles as far as being a leader, being one of the older guys on the team and leading a group of younger players. So just really continue what I’ve been doing and hopefully we’ll be able to make the World Cup. And I’m sure that the work that I do here will lead in perfectly to that,” he told reporters on a conference call.
Yedlin played for his hometown Seattle Sounders in 2013 and ’14 before he was lured to Tottenham. He appeared in one match, against Aston Villa, before he was loaned to Sunderland for a season.
After 4 1/2 seasons with Newcastle, he went to Turkey’s Galatasaray for a year before he signed the four-year deal this year with David Beckham’s Miami team — which had traded for the top spot in the allocation order.
Yedlin was on the U.S. roster for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and entered as a substitute against Portugal, Germany and Belgium. Overall, he has made 71 international appearances.
The United States, which didn’t make the field for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, plays its final three qualifying matches against Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica next month.
But first, Inter Miami opens its season at home on Feb. 26 against the Chicago Fire.
“I love the people down here. I love the vibe down here. I love the atmosphere,” Yedlin said. “So when I was presented with the opportunity to be able to come here and be able to play the sport that I love, it was really a no-brainer.”
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